We had been told to stop on our way in to Luanda at the newest , fanciest shopping centre, Bellas, and so in the notorious Luanda traffic, we nosed our way into an area just south of Luanda, that consisted of brand new housing complexes, office parks, and a shopping centre of Canal Walk-like proportions. It was totally disorientating to park in a ticketed carpark, and sit and have a coffee/cooldrink in a huge entrance hall.

bellas townhouses

We subsequently walked through a centre of boutique shops, cinema complexes, fast food restaurants, another Shoprite even better than Lobito’s, and an internet café. Given that the laptop was misbehaving, we had downloaded the unsent emails onto a memory stick, and managed to send them off via Gmail.(Getting quite impressed with ourselves for finally getting more technologically minded!!)

After having our fix of an airconditioned mall, we headed through central Luanda, where the thickening stream of traffic slowed to walking speed. A constant wave of street vendors, selling anything from the usual sunglasses, to the far more exotic, such as foodstuffs, toys, clothing, shoes, and even a vacuum cleaner, kept us from tedium, as we inched our way towards the “beachfront”.

Luanda TrafficThe oldThe new

Following our Garmin’s directions, we eventually arrived at the Luanda Yacht Club, Club Nautica. After negotiating our way past 2 obnoxious “carguards”, we were shown into the club’s secure carpark, where we set up camp.( Thanks to Ally and Rob we knew that they allow foreigners to camp for free in their carpark) Although we were right on the water’s edge, unfortunately the ground surface had recently been lifted, leaving an uneven dustbowl of concrete, tar, embedded rubbish and red dirt. We made the most of the free accommodation, however, although we did make some enquiries as to the price of a hotel for one night. The price tag of R1200 per night put a stop to that.

Our parking lot campThe view made up for it though

We took a walk through Luanda on Saturday morning, stopping for a coffee and pastry at one of the local eateries. Luanda is a mixture of very wealthy and very poor, with fancy new skyscrapers and ruined buildings side by side. The general filth and piles of rubbish that we had noticed in every Angolan town/city to date, were intensified, with little evidence of an effective drainage or sewerage system. But the brightly dressed city dwellers, most of them dressed impeccably, went on with their lives with a general cheerfulness that was good to see.

Despite the beautiful setting of our campsite, with a stunning sunset view of the city’s skyline, the lack of even basic amenities, and the rubbish dump environment was made worse when, on the first night, a huge function at the Yacht Club had a disco blaring music from 9pm to 5am, and the next night a club across the road managed to keep going until just after 5am!!It seems that the Angolans take an 8 hour working day to the absolute limit as the DJ’s refused to stop playing until they made use of the full 8 hours!

local fisherman

So with very little sleep under our belts, we broke up camp on Sunday morning. In general, the past few days were difficult as Annaliese’s food poisoning got worse, the situation was made even harder by not having ablution facilities available and when she injured her back, was ready to cal it a day. Thank you Rudolf for the mental support and good vibes send from you.

After queuing for diesel, we headed north once more. As you have to be eternal optimists in Africa to survive, we were in high spirits as new places needed to be explored, however,just as we were leaving the Yacht Club, we realized Stewart’s wallet had disappeared. A quick search yielded no results, so we hoped it had somehow been packed away with the camp.

We drove northwards, through the still thick kamikaze traffic, despite it being a Sunday, and with the road initially still good, set our sights on finding a quiet spot up north to recharge the sleep batteries.